The Case for Automated Data Classification in Today’s Workplace

Data classification in businesses and enterprises is everywhere. Many enterprises plan to take action on data classification in 2020, whether it’s implementing a new system or modifying the one they have.

The reason? Sensitive information is everywhere.

Once a company knows both the type and the location of the sensitive information, effective protection methods can be applied. Classification helps organizations identify and organize their sensitive data and ensure that it is protected appropriately.

Challenges in classification

Many experts say that the people who work with the data every day—often the employees of the business unit—are the best people to categorize that data.

In theory, this sounds good—but in practical terms, it can be a disaster. With files that were created years (sometimes decades) ago, putting the onus on the user to manually categorize all the sensitive data is a huge problem. In addition, the categorization system might have rules and definitions that are overly broad, overly specific, or open to interpretation. If users don’t like—or don’t understand—the categories, they won’t perform the classification.

There’s also a gap if employees aren’t aware of the sensitive information in their files. From customer-facing PowerPoints that accidentally have a slide from a board of directors deck, to a section of a credit card number databased exported into a spreadsheet, to logging programs that diligently scoop up data and deposit it in files on unprotected servers—chances are, your organization has sensitive data somewhere it shouldn’t be.

Automation is the answer

Very few systems are available that will allow your organization to automatically find sensitive data in your network and on your users’ endpoints, and then both automatically classify that data and apply remediation (quarantine, deletion, encryption, redaction, and more). Systems that include all of these steps—and do it in an automated way—remove much of the stress from the user, and speed things up immensely. A terabyte of PDF files, logs, and Excel spreadsheets might take an employee weeks or months to classify, but an automated system can do it in a matter of seconds.

As sensitive data proliferates in your organization, it’s more important than ever to have your data categorized properly. Automating the classification process—and the discovery and remediation that should go around it—is one of the most effective ways to make sure your sensitive data stays secure.